Row Beyond Diagnosis Lesson #4

Row Beyond Diagnosis Class #4 (3-25-17)

With sunshine and moderate winds, those of us who were ready for another lesson in rowing gathered last Saturday by the launching area of the MacWilliam Boat Park Basin.  If enthusiasm is contagious we all had it and happily passed it on! The thoughtful volunteers had worked hard to set up everything we needed ahead of time so, with only a few words of instruction, we were ready to assign people to boats and practice our rowing to the mantra of – arms, back, legs, legs, back, arms.

The first two long boats filled and carefully left the dock with minimal confusion under the direction of their coxswain (a new vocabulary word).  It’s reassuring to know they at least know what they are doing since we are all still newbies.  However, after just a few lessons, it was encouraging to notice a difference in our skill level from our first lesson.  We are improving!  It’s always satisfying to see skills developing because there are so many things to remember when an activity is done for the first time.  The long boats do what is called sweep rowing (more new vocabulary), but today my husband and I were going to have a slightly different experience.  The third boat in the water held four people and, instead of using only one oar, we each worked two oars which is called sculling (Can you tell I’m impressed with all these new words — a characteristic of any new sport).  This is a different rowing process to learn but it, too, is lots of fun.

The professional in our boat used a series of encouraging words that let us know the degree of our success.  “Good” meant we were off to a good start.  When it changed to “Very good” we knew we had improved, and this inspired us to work even harder because what we wanted to hear was his enthusiastic “Now everyone’s in rhythm!”  That moment of being in complete harmony is an achievement high that is so satisfying I think it might be addictive.  I just keep wanting to have more of them.

In the middle of the beautiful lagoon I took time to enjoy the scenery and noted how many people were happily involved in a variety of water sports.  I enjoyed the distraction a little too much and promptly lost my rhythm – a helpful reminder that I can only do well one activity at a time.  The moments of rowing in complete harmony are exhilarating!  When I lost my rhythm with the other rowers, I would immediately stop, realign myself, and begin again to restore the high of rowing in perfect synchronicity.  The desire to work together was dominant because the reward of sculling together feels so good.  Our blending to become one motion, instead of four individual motions, seemed to illustrate the beauty and harmony there is any activity when we work together for the benefit of the whole.

There is a serenity that comes when I am out on the water, removed from my busy calendar.  Everyone else in our sculling group seemed to feel it too.  Gently I reminded myself not to let the tyranny of the urgent keep me from what is vital.  Time spent in nature calms the mind, clears perspective, renews energy, and enhances inner peace, which is essential for working through daily stress.  Receiving these gifts from nature doesn’t require sports equipment or an organized activity – all we need to do is walk out the front door and take a deep breath.  It’s free, it’s simple, and its benefits are priceless.

Until next time – Sylvia

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